You're never far from the water in Auckland, a city that has more recreational boats per capita than any other city in the world, earning it the name the ‘City of Sails'.
Set on an isthmus between Manakau Harbour and the Hauraki Gulf, Auckland is the arrival point in New Zealand for many visitors, and their first taste of the country.
Wineries and wild beaches are all accessible from the city, whether you stay in the centre, a waterfront suburb or among the nearby Gulf islands.
Despite being New Zealand's largest city and its commercial hub, Auckland rarely feels crowded. The city extends across a wide area and much of it either overlooks or is near to bays, inlets, rivers and the twin harbours of Manakau and Waitemata.
Because of this, Auckland is one of the least densely populated cities in the world, occupying twice the area of London but with just one million people. It's also the world's largest Polynesian city, with around a quarter of its citizens of Maori descent or from families that arrived from Tonga, Samoa or other Pacific islands - the Auckland Museum is a good place to learn about this heritage. In recent years, a growing Asian population has added to the multicultural mix.
Dotted around Auckland are the humps of 50 or so extinct volcanoes, some of which were once the site of Maori pas, or fortified villages, and which afford great views of the city.
Astonishing views can also be had from the revolving restaurant and viewing deck of the 328-metre Sky Tower, a striking needle-like structure in the city centre that on a clear day can be seen from as far away as the Coromandel Peninsula.
The fashionable surrounding suburbs of Ponsonby, Parnell, Newmarket and Devonport can all also be seen from the tower.
An enjoyable day trip is a drive through the Waitakera Ranges to the white-sand beach at Piha on the west coast, a drive that takes you through some of New Zealand's most spectacular native forest.
Top itineraries in Auckland
With boutique hotel stays and car hire included throughout, this curated road trip perfectly showcases the unique cultures and natural wonders of New Zealand's North and South islands.
A tip-to-toe tour of New Zealand, taking in the best of its landscapes and culture, and calling into filming locations from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Between stunning volcanic landscapes, sub-tropical beaches and world-class wineries, this fly-drive holiday showcases the best of New Zealand's North Island.
Top places to stay in Auckland
Just 35 minutes from Auckland in New Zealand's Hauraki Gulf, Delamore Lodge on beautiful Waiheke Island offers an idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of city life in one of the North Island's most picturesque locations.
Originally the small holiday cottage of designer David Scott and now one of New Zealand's best-loved boutique luxury hotels, The Boatshed enjoys a stunning location above the picturesque sun-drenched bay of Oneroa.
Billed as one of Auckland’s ‘most iconic buildings’, this Art Deco classic has been something of a city landmark since its 1920s construction.
When to go to Auckland
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